Off the grid, the vast majority of people depend on kerosene, diesel, charcoal and burning wood for light and heat — all sources of energy that have been used for generations. But these sources are also expensive, dirty and dangerous. Indoor air pollution from household cooking fires has even been cited as the leading environmental cause of death in the world. This is an area with incredible potential for change, but there are high barriers:
PROBLEM #1: Renewable energy products are expensive
- Credit for clean technologies is largely unavailable because they’re not clearly and directly income generating, calling into question borrowers’ ability to repay.
- Many prospective customers are too rural for banks to lend to them profitably.
Loans for end users. For most bottom of the pyramid consumers, the price of a home solar system, or even a few solar lights is prohibitive. However, with credit delivered through flexible and creative means -- like a pay-as-you-go system, or automatic repayments deducted from cost savings -- end users can benefit from energy technologies without worrying about making their payments. In most cases, the amount of money and time saved from not buying or collecting kerosene, wood and diesel quickly covers the loan amount.
Sistema Biobolsa, Mexico
Loans for farmers to purchase biodigesters that convert livestock waste into energy and fertilizer.
Loans for clean-burning, energy-efficient cookstoves.
Affordable loans for solar home systems in off-grid areas.
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PROBLEM #2: Energy products are often not available at “The Last Mile”
Affordable clean energy products like solar lanterns and energy-efficient cookstoves are not readily available to most bottom of the pyramid consumers, despite their potential to save costs.
Loans for retailers. When retailers have the credit they need to buy clean energy products in bulk, they can sell that inventory at an affordable price but also turn a profit. This fuels a supply chain that extends these products into rural and remote areas where they would not otherwise be available.
Solar Sister, Uganda
Loans for women micro-retailers to buy inventories of solar lights to sell in their communities.
One Degree Solar, Kenya
Loans for retailers to purchase and re-sell solar devices that can charge phones, lights and batteries.
EarthSpark International, Haiti
Loans for retailers to purchase and re-sell both solar products and clean cookstoves to expand last-mile distribution.
Barefoot Power, Tanzania
Loans for small to medium-sized solar product distributors to expand adoption in rural areas.
Loans for energy-efficient housing supplies and renovations, hybrid vehicles and more.
Credit Mongol, Mongolia
Loans for clean energy and energy-efficient products in one of the most polluted countries on earth.
What is Success?
Over the next decade, we want to see clean energy products become regular household necessities. We define success as:
- Sustainable supply chains: Clean energy products and services being delivered through permanent, profitable channels.
- Social dividends: Improvements in health and well-being. Solar lights extending study and work hours, women and children no longer inhaling fumes from open fires, and more.
- Falling prices: Costs coming down as the market becomes more competitive, expanding access even further.